Four Lions is the funniest film in a long long time....
Read more at Don't Panic....right HERE
"You can't do a Jihad wiv a box on yer 'ed!"
Friday, 30 April 2010
The Vice Guide to Film focuses on North Korea this time in a sister documentary to The Vice Guide To North Korea that was on last year.
North Korea is pretty messed up, and it's probably the last 'great' dicatatorship/communist nation left. The whole country appears to be a series of shrines and museums to the great leader/the great general Kim Jong Il.
It turns out that King Jong Il (like Hitler) is a massive movie buff and enthusiast and has one of largest film collections in the world, build several private cinemas for himself and has directed (and worked more-or-less every other job) on many North Korean movies. He also wrote a book about cinema 'On The Art of Cinema'. And North Korean's believe he created the technique of filming movies with more than one camera! The problem is getting to look at these movies and most of North Korea itself proves to be very difficult. As the documentary shows, you can go nowhere or see anything without permission, several guides, secret police and most importantly paying respects to 'The Great Leader' and playing along with their propaganda games.
Then when they do let you see anything, the country appears to be nothing more than a farce, a show of grandeur thats is a front for very little. But the lengths the country has gone to show this desired image and succumb to the weird wills of a madman are remarkable, if not for their scale (40 story hotels with only one working floor, several thousand kids performing a show for 10 people in one of the worlds biggest stadiums and film sets where they build 50 houses just to burn them down) but also for what must be a tragic contradiction to the lives of most people living in North Korea.
For the reasons mentioned there is actually very little on film in this show, but the small window into the bizarre and closed world of North Korea is revealing, ridiculous and extraordinary.
In part three where the the two guides get confused over the statistics of how many films King Jong Il is credited with, you can almost see the madness of the shell like front of the North Korean film industry and the projected image of the country come crashing down...a blunder like this will no doubt end with one of these guides 'going missing'.
Watch the whole show at VBS.TV and check out the Vice Guide to North Korea too.
(this film looked good though)
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Detroit keeps cropping up. From Requiem for Detroit, to Blue Collar, The White Stripes and a bit of Eminem there has been a continuing trend on this blog concerning Detroit...maybe its because the whole thing feels like a Bruce Springsteen song I dunno?!
But this is definitely a good thing.
Ice House Detroit
This is a project by photographer Gregory Holm and architect Matthew Radune. It's kind of self explanatory...they acquired one of the 20 000+ of Detroit's abandoned houses and made some thing really rather lovely out of it.
This guy seems to like it too....
This is a good thing to look at too...thanks Holly x
Monday, 26 April 2010
Friday, 23 April 2010
Zooey Deschanel is probably one of the most beautiful and photogenic actresses working in Hollywood today, she makes bad movies good and good movies a little bit better and she sings like she looks...which is very nice! M.Ward is a somewhat elusive but sort after guitarist, songwriter, producer, arranger who's released his own material and worked with the likes of Bright Eyes, Norah Jones, Jenny Lewis, Beth Orton and more.
Deschanel and Ward joined forces in 2008 to create She & Him and released an album called Volume 1 and now Volume 2 has just been recently released. Their combined sound is a lovely and fresh mix of pop, country and kind of show tunes and all this works without being gimmicky or pretentious the songs are simply really good in their own right.
Most movies that Zooey Deschanel is in she tends to have a singing scene. In some cases these are the best scenes in the film in others they simply add to an already successful narrative and style. Here's three great singing scenes from Deschanel...
From Yes Man
What I wanted to include was her performance in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (she can sing in a really good film too was my point).
However, no such video appears to be available, but this pretty cool, a short film/alternate video to a She & Him song from the guy behind the movie (500) Days Of Summer Marc Webb, who has also directed most of the videos for GREEN DAY!!!!
This is dancing on a parr with a Spike Jonze video or a Tarantino movie....NICE!
M. Ward has recently been working with Conor Oberst on a new band Monsters of Folk...
This is an awesome song, but unfortunately there's no real video yet...but enjoy the tune anyway...
Ahead of the Curve
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Have you ever been to Denmark? Have you ever skated?...I haven't, but this kinda makes me want to do both!
VBS.TV's Skate Europe series is back with Skate Denmark...
"We met the architect, he was almost crying, 'oh your ruining my plaza' - nobody was using the plaza besides us, you should be happy...'oh maybe your right'.
You can check out the whole series at VBS.TV and it's definitely worth a look.
It's a bit like Dogtown and Z-Boys but with better accents!
Monday, 19 April 2010
This is series of images by photographer Anne Lass...looks like set shots from a German version of Mad Max mixed with The Road and Stalker.
Considering the recent triumphs of German cinema (Downfall, The Counterfeiters, The Lives of Others etc), the fact the Berlin is still apparently one of the trendiest places around, Tarantino shot his last movie in Germany and these photos are really cool...maybe such a film should happen...?
But long before this happens, and long before lots of other stuff happened, German cinema was one of the most influential and creative industries in the world. The 1920s was the time of German Expressionism...without this you wouldn't have the Sci - Fi of today and the ideas behind it, (Metropolis, Fritz Lang, 1927). Alfred Hitchcock would never have learned his trade and become one the most influential directors of all time. Film Noir may not have been so noir-ish, horror films wouldn't be as scary and directors like Tim Burton and David Lynch would probably have found it difficult to imagine the dark, weird and twisted worlds they create in their movies without German Expressionism.
To describe what German Expressionism is in words takes a while and besides many fine books have been written on the subject, however, the beauty of German Expressionism is that it is a truly visual medium....luckily you can see a sample of it for yourself this week at the Duke of York's.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Weine, 1920) is a benchmark in German Expressionism and cinema all round. It's about a circus and a sleepwalker and much more.
Thursday, 15 April 2010
VBS.TV has launched its second installment to The Vice Guide To Film, this time it goes to Russia for a look into the weird world Parallel Cinema.
'Russia is oppressive, it's hard and it's hard drinking. But out of this oppression can come great art.'
Parallel Cinema is a massive reaction against the political realities of Russia and its history, it involves some really weird stuff from some really weird people (and lots and lots and lots of vodka). The documentary gives a full insight and indulges into this weirdness, whilst also accurately explaining through Russia's history how and why Parallel Cinema came to be and why it is important.
After 60 years of Soviet rule and some really dull movies the 80's in Russia saw a release of pent up artistic energy and creativity, if you think about it it probably makes sense that Parallel Cinema appears to make little sense. This Vice Guide to Film will introduce you to these movies, movements and people, such as 'Alco-Cinema', a 'Necro-Realist' and a dude who amongst other things spent a year living as a dog....seriously!
I would describe some more of the stuff Parallel Cinema is about, but this is something you should definitely just see for yourself...and you can, right HERE
'Russia is oppressive, it's hard and it's hard drinking. But out of this oppression can come great art.'
The Duke of York's is showing the two best examples of cross dressing in cinema....and they both happen to be awesome films regardless...read more at Don't Panic...!
Saturday, 10 April 2010
I wanna go out on a limb and say this is the best opening to a film ever....but I think that could be a dumb ass thing to say! But this is just so cool and for so many reasons...
Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino, 1997)
For a start, the song....Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack is not only one of the best songs of it's time or genre, it just is one of the best songs, it mixes a real, relatable narrative with a stand out vocal and musical arrangement that is both gritty and dirty and sexy yet also effortlessly flowing and some how operatic and dramatic. It is coolness in tune.
But that's not only why this song works, it's association with the blaxploitation movies of 70s is so strong (see Across 110th Street) that Tarantino is informing the audience of his references and the themes of the world they are about to go into without having to rely on visual pointers or narrative drive.
Simple timing and continuity, like having the main title of "Jackie Brown" splash across the screen at the crescendo of the chorus is an audio-visual feast, that engages the viewer both in the scene, the character and arguably due to the size and font of the title, the themes and aesthetic of the film and its style.
The visual image of having the main character Jackie Brown walk into frame and stand there while she moves without moving on the airport treadmill(?) works to invoke the audience in several ways. It immediately gives location and setting, and mix that with Tarantino's eye for colour, mise-en-scene, costume and style (the mosaic background combined with the colour of her uniform) help to make the whole sequence look and feel perfect. However, having the main character stand there (then being followed through the airport) also works as a great narrative device. By the end of the sequence the audience is so used to seeing Jackie and her name (the films title) on the screen that there is already a connection and maybe empathy without a single word or major action taken place. This is so effective that the character of Jackie does not appear in the film again for about another 20 mins (a long time to have the main character of the film absent), however, this works so the film's other characters, Ordell, Louis, Melanie and Max Cherry can propel the story and set up. So when finally Jackie Brown enters the narrative for real, she needs little introduction.
It's also great because the sequence cuts to "Chicks Who Love Guns"
"Nothing gets between me and my AK!"
Thursday, 1 April 2010
The Vice Guide to Film has started on VBS.TV and the series kicks off with an exploration into the world of Mexican Narco Cinema.
Narco Cinema is literally just that, films about and that are funded by drugs and drug trafficking, and as we know, in Mexico thats a big deal with the drug business being worth around $100 Billon! The films themselves are hugely popular, both in Mexico and the US (many of which are sell most of their units in Wall-Mart). The films are mostly shot quick and on the cheap, with lots of action, guns and trucks!
The film is in 3 parts and follows the history of Narco Cinema, and how it was spawned from cheap B-Movies in the 70s and flourished in the 80s as the 'video home' movement started due to people no longer being able to afford to go the cinema and video (now DVD) becoming a cheaper more accessible medium for the masses (still today only 18% of the Mexican population can afford to go to the cinema).
The film also shows the other, perhaps more troubling, reason for Narco Cinema. It is an industry that is about and financed by the drug lords. These are people that commit mass murder, intimidation, torture, run prostitution, and are partly responsible for the messed up state of Mexico today. However, these are also people that a cherished by the communities they are from and have been mythologized into modern folklore from the Corrido songs of Mariachis and then in the movies of Narco Cinema, so these people are not simply the evil drug dealers ruining peoples lives, they are infact deeply rooted in the culture and everyday life of Mexico.
Although these films (and the making of them) are pretty cool (there all about guns, trucks, girls, drugs and action!) There is a perhaps a troubling dichotomy here, showing that peoples attitudes to tackling drug trafficking needs to be much more complex than simply stopping the dealers, traffickers and suppliers, as these are people that are so entrenched in every aspect of Mexico's economy, culture and infrastructure.
There is also an interesting parallel between the development of the Mexican film Industry and that of Hollywood. If you put the drug thing to one side, these are still movies made really quickly (shot in 2 weeks) and on the cheap, but remain to be popular and as a whole show an entertaining and subversive sub culture, which is something extremely lacking in mainstream Hollywood today. Spending millions of dollars and years in production to make one lame Hollywood romcom where as the Narco Cinema can knock out hundreds of kick ass movies a year and probably sell just as many units as an average Hollywood production, and the Narco Cinema films (although being kinda trashy) are reflecting something in the national culture and conscious. Luckily Mexican film also has directors such as Guillermo Del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron and Alenjandro Gonzales Innaritu (to name only three) who are making truly outstanding and significant films both in Mexico and around the world.
So perhaps Narco Cinema is another important aspect of Mexico's growing and inspiring film industry, by both being awesome, fun trashy filmmaking and also being deeply rooted in the contemporary culture. Yet it also tragic that the culture, society and movies have to exist in such a dark shadow as that of the devastating drug business.
Watch The Vice Guide to Film - Mexican Narco Cinema (part 1)...
Q. Who can afford to buy these kinds of clothes?
A. Usually people with money. Congressman, business men, oilmen, drug dealers...those kinds of people.